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Fourth lawsuit filed against Georgia pastor

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Fourth complaint pending against Long
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Long says "we will arise," TV station reports
  • Fourth young man sues megachurch pastor Eddie Long
  • The pastor will speak from pulpit Sunday about allegations
  • Long "categorically denies the charges," spokesman says

(CNN) -- A fourth lawsuit has been filed against Atlanta-area pastor Eddie Long, alleging he coerced a 17-year-old into a sexual relationship during a 2005 trip the two took to Africa.

The suit -- filed, like the others, in DeKalb County, Georgia, State Court -- claims Long invited Spencer LeGrande, now 22, on a trip to Kenya.

On the first night in Nairobi, Long asked LeGrande to come to his room, where the youth told the pastor he was having difficulty going to sleep, the suit states. Long provided Ambien, a sleep aid, and they both took the drug, according to the suit.

Long then gave LeGrande a hug, kissed and licked the youth's lips and rubbed the teen's chest, according to the lawsuit. They slept in bed together that evening and during the rest of the Kenya trip, the lawsuit states, adding they went on shopping sprees.

In a statement released by his spokesman, Long denied the allegations.

Video: Bishop's lawyer defends new photos
RELATED TOPICS
  • Eddie Long
  • Sexual Offenses
  • Religion
  • Atlanta

"Our position about the lawsuits has not changed. Bishop Long categorically denies the charges," said spokesman Art Franklin. "We believe that it is unfortunate the young men have chosen to take this course of action. The defense team will review the complaints and respond accordingly at the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum."

In a statement issued Thursday, Long asked for patience "as we continue to categorically deny each and every one of these ugly charges" and requested prayers for himself, his family and the church. He said he will respond to his congregation from the pulpit on Sunday.

He also spoke during a Friday conference call, saying "we will arise through this situation," an Atlanta TV station said.

Long's church, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, also is a defendant in the civil action filed Friday.

The men who brought lawsuits this week claim Long took them on overnight trips to various locations within the United States and beyond, sharing a room and engaging in sexual contact with them, including massaging, masturbation or oral sex.

Friday's action, which does not ask for a specific amount of damages, claims Long manipulated, coerced and deceived LeGrande by convincing him that a sexual relationship was "a healthy component of his spiritual life." It says Long uses church money and other accounts to entice young men with cars, clothing, jewelry and electronics.

According to Friday's court filing, LeGrande and his family in March 2003 joined New Birth-Charlotte in North Carolina, a satellite location of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. LeGrande approached Long after a 2005 sermon at a "Men of War Conference" at the Charlotte location.

LeGrande was moved by Long's message of forgiving fathers who had been absent because his father had not been active in his life, the lawsuit states. Long told the plaintiff, "I got you. I will be your dad."

Long initiated phone calls and LeGrande would see him in Charlotte and Atlanta, the lawsuit states. It said Long took LeGrande on trips to South Africa -- where he met Winnie Mandela -- Zimbabwe and Kenya in 2006, when LeGrande graduated from high school. The pair engaged in "intimate sexual contact" during the trips, the suit alleges.

The pastor encouraged LeGrande to move to Atlanta to attend Beulah Heights University to prepare for the ministry. Long told the young man to have no girlfriends, the suit says, adding Long paid the tuition, bought him a car and gave him cash.

The lawsuit says Long had sexual contact with LeGrande in his private church office in October 2008. LeGrande lived in several residences and eventually began to separate from Long, the suit states.

The two had occasional sexual relations through most of 2009, the suit states.

"In or about the spring of 2009 plaintiff LeGrande began to become disillusioned and confused by defendant Long's actions and began pulling away from defendant Long," the suit states.

LeGrande quit Beulah and moved back to Charlotte, where he currently lives, in October 2009.

New Birth had a duty to warn and protect LeGrande, according to the suit, which claims negligence, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and failure to supervise.

Long made a conference call Friday to pastors and supporters around the country.

"We will arise through this situation, and go forward, and we are moving forward," Long said, according to CNN affiliate WGCL-TV, which monitored the call.

"I have never dealt with anything like this before. I have been under attack before, but everything else has been different levels and different challenges," Long said. He took no questions.

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